BILLINGS — The All-American Indian Shootout is in its 10th year at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark.
Eight tribes from across Montana and North Dakota made their way to Billings as the tournament pays homage to the Crow Agency All-Americans, who won the state AAU championship in 1941-42.
“They were role models. Everybody looked up to them. It's kind of built up through the years. This event now is more or less based in honor of them," said Billy Backbone.
“This weekend is all about the student athlete. Showing them the sportsmanship, camaraderie and competitiveness — being a competitive player," said Shawn Backbone, the event's director. "This weekend is all about that, then we throw a little halftime entertainment in there. Singing and dancing, because that's who we are."
Both Billy and Shawn had fathers on that legendary Crow Agency team. They see the importance this weekend centered around native basketball culture and the history of that championship squad.
“It's fast breaking and up-tempo basketball. That's the flavor of Indian basketball, is up-tempo and exciting," Shawn said. "Some of them have plays and some of them don't. They just play basketball."
“Within schools a lot of people tell stories about that team. And it carries on and sure motivates those kids," Billy said.
Life is bigger than basketball, though it provides an avenue of hope for so many. That Crow Agency championship team changed the tenor and expectations, both on and off the floor.
“Most of them are World War II veterans. I went to the military myself afterwards, so they kind of set the standard as families to go for it," Shawn said.
The show rolls on Saturday morning as the three-day hoops fest comes to a close inside First Interstate Arena.